Roni Vayre is the Copywriter and Content Marketing Director for Plan to Eat. When she’s not writing, editing, or making episodes of The Plan to Eat Podcast, you can find her in the mountains with her husband and their English Mastiff, Animas.
Not having an answer to “what’s for dinner?” night after night is exhausting. And it can feel like you’re failing your family by not being prepared. You don’t have to struggle with the 5 o’clock freak out anymore. Meal planning will help you prepare yourself for the week ahead and get peace of mind that you’re organized and can feed your family.
Meal planning is simply planning out a set of recipes and then grocery shopping once for all those meals. You can choose to meal plan for any length of time, three days, a week, or an entire month, the amount of time you plan for will be specific to you and your schedule.
To get started, you want to compile a list of recipes, add them to your calendar on the days you’d like to prepare and eat them. Then create a shopping list for all the ingredients you need for the week.
If you’re new to meal planning, or struggle with consistency, we recommend starting small. Start with planning only a few dinners per week and build from there. You’ll quickly see the benefits of meal planning and want to do it more!
1. You can save money.
One of the simplest ways to save money at the grocery store is to plan ahead and create a shopping list that fits your needs. It’s easy to grocery shop without a plan and buy things you think you need, but that can lead to wasted money and food. By creating a meal plan and a shopping list, you’re on your way to saving money!
In a 2017 customer survey, we found that customers had a 23% reduction in food costs simply from creating a meal plan. That means per-person household grocery costs were reduced from $199 to $152 a month!
Meal planning saves you money by helping you be intentional with your grocery purchases. Shopping from a list that’s focused on a plan enables you to buy items that have a purpose, rather than shopping at random.
2. You can regain time.
You may not realize how much time you waste each week thinking about what to eat and going to the grocery store. There’s the time spent wondering “what’s for dinner?”, then you have to rummage through your pantry and fridge to see if you can piece together a meal, and finally you make a trip to the grocery store to get ingredients you don’t already have. It’s not just time-consuming, it’s exhausting.
Planning ahead eliminates the question of “what’s for dinner?” each night because it’s already been decided beforehand. And if you shop with a comprehensive list, you don’t have to worry about what’s in your cupboards because you went to the grocery store and bought everything you needed.
3. You can free up your mental to-do list.
How many tasks do you have running through your head right now? You probably have a list of chores that need to be done, a list of groceries that need to be purchased, a list of errands to run, events to attend, books to read, weird facts you’d like to Google, and the list goes on. You have a lot going on and your brain can only pile up so many to-dos before things start to spill out.
Meal planning is one way to reduce the number of items on your mental to-do list. Grocery lists and dinner plans don’t bog down your brain when you have a plan. There’s a lot of freedom in clearing up brain space and no longer worrying about what you will eat for dinner.
Meal planning is a go-to for time and money saving, but it will also save you energy and brain space.
If you’ve tried meal planning before, you probably experienced it being time-consuming. Searching through a stack of cookbooks or bookmarked recipes and then handwriting a comprehensive shopping list is no small feat.
But meal planning doesn’t have to be an hour-long event at the kitchen table with stacks of books and papers. Plan to Eat allows you to streamline meal planning, so you can be prepared and plan ahead, and it only takes minutes.
We take all the aspects of traditional meal planning and transform them into a single, digital resource. All your recipes can be gathered together in the program and organized. There’s a meal planning calendar for you to plan ahead for as much time as you’d like. And the best part is the automated shopping list. Once you’ve created a meal plan, the shopping list will automatically populate an organized list of ingredients you need to buy. You can add to and refine this list as much as you want, so you buy the ingredients for your recipes and any other household items you need.
Try Plan to Eat, for free, for 14 days. No payment information is required, so there’s nothing to cancel if you decide we’re not right for you. And one account gets you (and your family) access on all your devices!Holiday Gift Guide for Celebrating Family Recipes